Sunday, April 01, 2012


I was in the Gym today in the Men's locker room and was surprised by the comment of one of the guys in there.  He had his young son with him and looked up at the TV which had the Fox news channel on.  He said, to his son, "that channel lies constantly."  I was bothered by that characterization not because I wanted to defend Fox but because it is indicative of the way many people look at the media.

I am not a big fan of any of the cable news outlets.  They tend to play up issues in ways that are not helpful to thinking about things carefully.  That is not just true for MSNBC, Fox, CNN and the other wannabes in the cable news business - I think it often applies to NPR.   The last couple of weeks on the Travon Martin case is a good demonstration of the problem.

We know at this point that a young Black kid was walking through a neighborhood and was shot by a neighborhood watch person.   We also know that the police in the jurisdiction have not charged the neighborhood watch person (a George Zimmerman).    Today on one of NPRs programs they had two people talking about what should be done.  One said he thought that Mr. Zimmerman should be convicted immediately.    There is clearly a tragedy attached to this event, a young man was shot and killed while returning from a convenience store.   But a lot of the other details are in question.  Evidently Martin had been suspended from school recently.   Mr. Zimmerman had a permit to carry his weapon.  Martin was unarmed.  Zimmerman claims that Martin attacked him and he responded in kind.   There are allegedly witnesses to the events that lead to Martin's death.    But beyond that we do not have a clear picture of the events.   With those facts in view, we should let the legal system sort the issue out.   Was the use of force excessive?    The idiot on NPR had started with a conclusion - without having any direct knowledge about the full range of facts in the case.   The second NPR person had a larger social agenda that would be applied to any situation without regard to the specific facts in the case.

The point of all this is twofold.  First, all cable news bothers me - these sources care little about news and a lot about presentation.   Second, while I am negatively disposed to NPR, CNN, MSNBC and the rest, let me hold my tongue around impressionable folk like this guy's son.  Our republic would benefit if we were more willing to listen to other points of view, even if they are presented as "news."

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